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The QUICKEST Toddler Play Dress…you’ll ever make!

Can I tell you about another blogging friend, whom I totally adore?  I’m sure you’ve heard of her or seen her sewing creations online, many times before…….but Katy Dill is one clever woman.  And she has 6 little subjects to sew for.  5 adorable girls….and a little book end toddler boy, Drummer!  (You know that little guy is probably his sisters’ little dress up doll.)


Anyway, Katy created a fun series, where she creates items for her children (and sometimes herself) which correspond with each letter of the alphabet.  How fun!  She asked other bloggers to join in if they wanted to…..and I couldn’t’ resist!



Here are a few of her sewing creations, which correspond with her letter inspiration.


(And yes, she also plays the harp!  Ahhhh…..heaven.   I took a semester of harp lessons in college, Katy…..can you dumb down your skills and let me play with you one day?  HA!)


Make sure to check out all of the other “Sew All 26” projects in her series.



When I signed up for a letter in Katy’s “Sew All 26” series last November or so, for some reason I chose “Q”.  Really?!?!  What was I thinking.  I was stumped…..and maybe stretched it a bit.  But I couldn’t think of anything to make for a ‘Q’ueen.  Or that was ‘Q’uirky.  Or that involved the word ‘Q’uiet.



So, today, the letter ‘Q’ is for………



Yep, it’s a stretch…..but just humor me, and my lack of coming up with other ‘Q’ projects.  Ha!




I’ve made similar things in the past……but truly, this is the QUICKEST method of making little dresses that you’ll ever see.  And the most cozy comfy too!





And yeah, you guessed it.  The reason why it’s the QUICKEST (and cheapest) dress ever, is yep………………because I’m the shortcut queen!  (Ack, another ‘Q’…..I’m on a roll!  Hey, this letter was hard…..let me claim that victory!)


But yep, I made these dresses out of women’s shirts.  So, the neckline was from the original shirt.  And so were the sleeve hems.

The heart and star add a little more time….but the basic dress shape is what is super quick!!  (But, how can you resist a fun pop of color?!)





And well, Chloe thinks she’s some sort of diva in her new metallic STAR dress!  She likes to pet her little metallic star and say, “oooh, so sparkly!!







But because many of the seams come from the original shirt, this dress really is a QUICK project!  And extremely comfy, since the shirt was already all worn in!




Okay, don’t walk, but RUN to your closet (or the thrift store like I did) and find a few stretchy knit shirts to cut up and turn into play dresses for your toddler.  Or……tunics, for your 5-7 year old girls!



Here’s how:


Before we get started…..keep in mind that you can make this from scratch.  You can purchase some jersey knit fabric and use an existing Tshirt of your little girl’s and cut around it the same way.  However, what makes this project QUICK, is that you’re using an existing shirt and don’t have to recreate the neckline or the sleeve hems.  Awesome!


So, find an old shirt that you’d like to cut up…..or find a shirt from the thrift store that has a fun print or color to it.


Then, cut the front section of the shirt, away from the back section.



Fold the front section in half lengthwise, with right sides together.  Then place an existing shirt (that fits your little girl) and turn it inside out.  Then fold it in half lengthwise as well and lay it on top of the women’s shirt.  Line up the folds of both and then line up the neckline of the “front” of the child’s shirt with the neckline of the shirt behind it.



Begin cutting around the shirt, following the shape and dimension of the child’s shirt.  You’re only cutting around the shirt front, without the sleeves.  Make sure that you are adding sufficient fabric for a seam allowance.  (If drawing a paper pattern of the child’s Tshirt is easier, go ahead and do that….and then use that to cut around on top of the women’s shirt.)



Once you get the arm hole shape cut out…..stop.  Then cut a diagonal cut from the end of the arm cut-out, down to the bottom of the shirt…..creating an A-line dress shape.



Once you open it up, your front dress shape should look like this.



Fold it back in half and then place it on top of the back of the women’s shirt….which also needs to be folded in half lengthwise.  Match up the folds.  You will cut around the front dress piece, making the back pieces exactly the same shape…..except the neckline will be different.



When placing the front piece onto the back piece (and before cutting) make sure that the neckline of the back of the dress is a bit higher.



Now, you have a front and back piece.



For the arms, place the child’s shirt sleeve (that’s still inside out) on top of the women’s sleeve.  Line up with the folds of each and cut around the shape of the sleeve, leaving enough room for a seam allowance.  (And don’t forget, the hem of the women’s sleeve will serve as the hem for your new sleeve hem.  Another shortcut!!)  Repeat with the other sleeve, so you have 2 total.



Now, you should have 4 dress pieces total.



Place the dress front and dress back together, with right sides together, and match up the shoulders.  Sew them together at the shoulders, with whatever seam allowance you allowed yourself while cutting.



Then, open up the dress with the right side facing up and place it sideways in front of you (so that the curve of one of the arm openings is at the top).  Place the sleeve piece face down and match up the very center of the curved edge of the sleeve with the shoulder seam of the arm hole opening on the dress.  Place a pin to keep the two centers together.



Then, begin pinning the curve of the sleeve to the curve of the arm hole opening, bit by bit.  It may seem a little wonky because the curves of both are going different directions.  However, just ease it into place and pin small sections at a time.





Continue with the rest of the sleeve.  They should match up pretty evenly at each end.



Sew in place, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  If you allowed for more than 1/4 inch, trim it down a bit because it’s easier to sew these two curved pieces together if there is less of a seam allowance.  Repeat with the other sleeve and then you should have one piece, that looks like the one below.



Add a zig-zag seam along the sleeves and shoulder seams, for extra reinforcement.



Then, fold the dress back in half, with right sides together…….and sew up a sleeve and down the side of the dress.  Repeat on both sides.



Trim off the bottom edge of the dress, making it even all the way around…….and fold up an inch (or more or less, depending on how long you want the dress) and use a double needle to get a nice polished hem that allows for a bit of stretching.



Iron all your seams flat.  Using steam will help any fabric that has stretched a bit from sewing.


Now, the dress is done!!!

. . . . .



Now, you can leave the dress just like it is…..or fancy it up.


To create the star, I cut a star out of paper first, held it up to the dress to see if I liked the size/shape……then cut around it on some metallic fabric, adding another 1/4 inch all the way around for a seam allowance.



Then, I cut a piece of lining fabric the exact same size.  I sewed the two together, with right sides together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.



Then, I trimmed off each point……



……and then added a slit between each inverted angle of the star.  (Here’s more on clipping corners and curves.)



Then, on the lining side of the star, cut a slit……



…..and then turn the star right side out through the slit.



Poke each tip of the star out with the point of your scissors, or something like a knitting needle.  Then iron flat.



Pin the star to the dress.



And then sew around the outer edge of the star, nice and close to the edge.



The heart was created by ironing some fusible adhesive to the WRONG side of the green fabric, cutting a heart shape out, peeling back the paper of the adhesive, and then ironing the heart directly onto the dress.  Then, I stitched around the heart with a zig-zag stitch.  (The green fabric was knit, so I didn’t have to worry about fraying.  However, if you use a zig-zag stitch, that will help keep a woven fabric from fraying as well.)



And that’s it.


Some really fun and simple toddler dresses…..ready to be played in!!!



Good luck!




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  1. Casandra says:

    Love this can you help me I have been wanting to make a dress for my little girl out of her daddy’s long sleeved button down shirt would this be done the same way or different

  2. Kathie Jones says:

    These are adorable! Thank you for the great walk-thru and inspiration. <3

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Maybe it is the late hour that I am seeing this but couldn’t follow it. Think I will do the color block dress for now.
    Want to ask with the color block dress can you use cotton fabric the same way? In other words cotton fabric the same length and width sewn onto the T shirt.

  4. Victoria Rymell says:

    Ooohhhh I so want a little girl – (mine is all grown up) just so I can make one of these!

  5. Sue says:

    I’ve made several newborn baby nightgowns as gifts using this method, from tee shirts that had a logo meaningful to the mom or dad. I sewed a drawstring hem. They were a big hit!

  6. Haine copii says:

    These are super cute!

  7. atefeh says:

    You’re the best. I’m one of your fan.

  8. cristina says:

    Very beautiful dresses, I love them!

  9. Rachel @ Twin Tough says:

    What a fantastic project and tutorial! I have twin 6 yr-olds, and I know they would LOVE these! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Christine says:

    Can you use fusible adhesive to put felt onto knit fabric? Or does the felt melt?

  11. Jenny says:

    I am going to do this with t-shirts that have logos on them that represent the college we went to and one of our favorite sports teams! I can never find cute, small enough for toddler clothes to represent either team! I am so excited for her to wear them! I am also making them a little larger so they will fit her down the road as dresses and then as t-shirts with leggings:)

  12. Alexia Sotelo says:


  13. kukafera says:

    I really love these dresses!!
    I’ll go and see which t-shirts I don’t use anymore to make a pair of them!!

  14. Anneliese says:

    These are super cute! I love the oversized appliques.

  15. carmen hagood says:

    It’s adorable:)

  16. Becky Chastain says:

    To make quicker one just make a pleat in the front center and back of the neck to make it fit,or make a simple gather for a change-up. Then lay a shirt on fold, as described above,take a tuck in the shoulder seam so it matches child’s shoulder seam. Next lay the sleeve on the adult tshirt and pin. Make sure that the top fold of the sleeves match. Then cut the sleeve leaving a half inch for seam allowance ,using the child’s tshirt as a guide. Continue cutting down under the arm and at an angle to the hem. Sew the sleeve and side seams and your finished! Great for play or sleepwear .

  17. Anonymous says:

    Cute dress!!
    I’m wondering what ever became of the guest blogger thing….I’m excited to see what becomes of it!

  18. Lorena says:

    I love the large bright photos, they make it so clear. I love these dresses.

  19. Tori says:

    Thanks for your blog! I wondered though, why you didn’t use the original shirt hem as the dress hem?

    1. Ashley says:

      Well, I could have…..but then, the neckline wouldn’t have matched up. Since the neck size is smaller, I had to cut the front and back pieces separately and make it to fit my little girl. If your shirt is laying down in front of you and you just cut the dress pieces front the shirt as is, the neckline would be too big or wouldn’t meet correctly at the shoulders. Generally, you have to either choose to use the shirt hem or the neckline….and since a hem is faster than re-creating a neckline, I chose to keep the neckline. Does that make more sense?

  20. Flor says:

    I’m not lazy… but I would definitely do it sleeveless! haha

  21. Anne says:

    My favorite kind of toddler dress to make! I made quite a few of them like this for my daughter when she was little. I’ve posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip:

  22. Danielle says:

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. Im going to spend my day ripping through my thrift store pile to make some cute dresses for my daughter.

  23. Susi says:

    Ashley you are the best !!! I got nearly 50 of shirts I don`t wear – now I know what to do with this. Thanks a lot….
    Your Susi

  24. Zoe says:

    I can’t wait to try this out :)

  25. gigi la chti says:

    très jolies petites robes j’aime beaucoup
    bravo et bisous de France

  26. Liz says:

    Super cute!

  27. Carina Garcia says:

    Justo lo que me hacia falta!! Gracias!!
    Tengo un monton de remeras mias y de mi mama que guarde para hacerles vestidos a mis hijas.

  28. CJ says:

    What an adorable idea! You have given me some inspiration to do a matching Daddy + Little Guy shirt! I can’t find any pre-made matching shirts that I like, so I am going to make one. The Daddy shirt is no biggie, the little guy shirt is my challenge. But I see how you altered the shirt for Chloe, soooo, I think it will be the same concept for my Little Guy.

  29. Aunt Jeri says:

    I can’t believe how grown up Chloe is getting. She is just so cute. This makes me wish I still had a toddler to make a dress for. Cute idea!

  30. Nicki says:

    I LOVE this. I’ve been wanting to get some more dresses into my little girly’s wardrobe, but have been struggling to find a pattern that I liked that would be appropriate for playtime. I think my stash of shirts-that-don’t-fit-but-have-nice-fabric will be cut into today. Hooray!

  31. Jennifer says:

    too cute! so very simple and sweet, will need to make my punkin a few soon :) thanks for sharing Ashley!

  32. Christi says:

    This is awesome! I can’t wait to make some for all my nieces!

  33. Kiran says:

    My youngest would only wear dresses if she could. This would be perfect!

  34. lisa jack says:

    I love this! I have 2 girls…one that never gets out of dresses! lol so this would be an easy way for me to add to her collection. thx!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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